28th July is observed as World Hepatitis day. Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver caused by a virus. This year World Health Organisation has planned a global strategy this year to eliminate viral hepatitis by the year 2030. It aims to achieve elimination, spread awareness and increase diagnosis of the virus.
Why is the liver so important?
The liver is the largest gland in the human body. It is made up of thousands of lobules, each lobule consists of many hepatic cells which are the basic metabolic cells of the liver.
Some vital functions:
- Stores vitamins A, D, K and B12 and minerals
- Protein synthesis (makes certain amino acids – the building blocks of proteins)
- The production of biochemical needed for digestion, such as bile
- Maintains proper levels of glucose in the blood and produces hormones
- Produces 80% of the body’s cholesterol
- Produces urea (the main substance of urine)
Hepatitis can heal on its own with no significant consequence or it can progress to scarring of the liver. Acute hepatitis lasts under six months, while chronic hepatitis lasts longer. Most liver damage is caused by 3 hepatitis viruses namely hepatitis A, B and C. However, hepatitis can also be caused by alcohol and some other toxins and infections, as well as from our own autoimmune process. About 250 million people globally are thought to be affected by hepatitis C, while 300 million people are thought to be carriers of hepatitis B.
Some acute phase symptoms:
- Diarrhoea and Fatigue
- Loss of appetite
- Mild fever
- Muscle or joint aches
- Nausea and vomiting
- Slight abdominal pain with weight loss
Some chronic phase symptoms:
- Circulation problems (only toxic/drug-induced hepatitis)
- Dark urine
- Dizziness and drowsiness
- Enlarged spleen (only alcoholic hepatitis)
- Headache (only toxic/drug-induced hepatitis)
- Itchy skin
- Light coloured faeces
- Yellow skin, whites of eyes, tongue
Different types of Hepatitis are explained below:
Hepatitis A & E
Transmission: Both are spread mainly through eating food or drinking water that has been contaminated by the faeces of an infected person.
Prevention: There is a vaccination for hepatitis A. Hepatitis E has a vaccine but it is not widely available. Maintaining good hygiene practices is a precautionary measure.
Treatment: As hepatitis A only causes acute hepatitis, the body is often able to clear the infection itself within a few weeks. There is no treatment for hepatitis E. However it is usually self-limiting.
Transmission: Hepatitis B is transmitted through contact with the blood or other body fluids of an infected person. It can be passed on from mother to child during childbirth.
Prevention: There is a vaccination that can prevent Hepatitis B. It is best to avoid sharing of needles, toothbrushes or razors with an infected person.
Treatment: There are a variety of antiviral drugs available which slow the replication of the virus and occasionally result in its clearance.
Hepatitis C & D
Transmission: Both are spread through contact with infected blood.
Prevention: There is no vaccination for hepatitis C. It is therefore necessary to reduce risk by avoiding sharing needles, toothbrushes and razors from an infected person. It is also wise to avoid getting tattoos or body piercings from unlicensed facilities.
Hepatitis D is only found in people who are already infected with the hepatitis B virus. So vaccination against Hepatitis B can help.
Treatment for C: Treatment for chronic hepatitis C aims to eradicate the virus. It often involves a use of combination medicines and there is an increasing use of potent antiviral drugs.
Treatment for D: Conditions may improve with administration of a-interferon, however no effective antiviral therapy is currently available for hepatitis D.
Correct diagnosis and early treatment of Hepatitis is crucial to save the liver from further damage. Consult our team of experts at Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital for any Hepatitis related queries. Contact us anytime for emergencies and consultations We cater to all kind of patient issues minor and major. Please visit our website for further details: